Georgia History, Politics, Campaigns and Elections for January 8, 2014


Georgia History, Politics, Campaigns and Elections for January 8, 2014

On January 8, 1783, Lyman Hall, a Georgia signer of the Declaration of Independence, was elected Governor.

Wedgwood Lyman Hall

Lyman Hall appears on one piece of a two-piece set by Wedgwood celebrating the Bicentennial of American Independence. In 1918, Hall County was named after Lyman Hall, and in 1848, a Signers Monument was built in Augusta, where the remains of Hall and fellow signer George Walton were interred.

On January 8, 1790, President George Washington gave his first State of the Union address to Congress in New York City. Click here to read Washington’s first State of the Union.

A free people ought not only to be armed, but disciplined; to which end a uniform and well-digested plan is requisite; and their safety and interest require that they should promote such manufactories as tend to render them independent of others for essential, particularly military, supplies.

The proper establishment of the troops which may be deemed indispensable will be entitled to mature consideration. In the arrangements which may be made respecting it it will be of importance to conciliate the comfortable support of the officers and soldiers with a due regard to economy.

There was reason to hope that the pacific measures adopted with regard to certain hostile tribes of Indians would have relieved the inhabitants of our southern and western frontiers from their depredations, but you will perceive from the information contained in the papers which I shall direct to be laid before you (comprehending a communication from the Commonwealth of Virginia) that we ought to be prepared to afford protection to those parts of the Union, and, if necessary, to punish aggressors.

Uniformity in the currency, weights, and measures of the United States is an object of great importance, and will, I am persuaded, be duly attended to.

The advancement of agriculture, commerce, and manufactures by all proper means will not, I trust, need recommendation; but I can not forbear intimating to you the expediency of giving effectual encouragement as well to the introduction of new and useful inventions from abroad as to the exertions of skill and genius in producing them at home, and of facilitating the intercourse between the distant parts of our country by a due attention to the post-office and post-roads.

The welfare of our country is the great object to which our cares and efforts ought to be directed, and I shall derive great satisfaction from a cooperation with you in the pleasing though arduous task of insuring to our fellow citizens the blessings which they have a right to expect from a free, efficient, and equal government.

On January 8, 1821, representatives of the United States and the Creek Indians signed a treaty in which the Creeks ceded the territory from the Flint to the Ocmulgee Rivers, marking the expansion of Georgia beyond the Ocmulgee.

On January 8, 1831, John Pemberton, inventor of Coca-Cola, was born in Knoxville, Ga.

On January 8, 2007, R.E.M. was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio, in a class that included Van Halen, Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five, Patti Smith, and the Ronettes. Five days later, they performed at the induction ceremony.


DeKalbGOPSaturdayElection Results

We will have runoff elections for State House Districts 2 and 22 after no candidates garnered the required 50% plus one vote last night.

House District 2

Neal Florence (R)  964 votes (34.31%)
Steve Tarvin (R) 1072 votes (38.15%)
Doug Woodruff (R) 774 votes (27.54%)

House District 22

Meagan Biello (R) 576 votes (23.67%)
Nate Cochran (R) 359 votes (14.76%)
Jeff Duncan (R) 574 votes (23.59%)
Sam Moore (R) 924 votes (37.98%)

Looking at his public statements, supporters, and contributors, it appears to me that Sam Moore is supported by a number of members of the burgeoning Liberty wing of the Republican Party. Make of it what you will.

The runoff elections between the top two vote getters in each race will be held on Tuesday, February 4, 2014.

Greg’s List – an Internet Radio Brogram

Yesterday, I was on Greg’s List Live, an internet radio show with Greg Williams, who writes the Greg’s List blog about Georgia politics. I still don’t understand how the internet works over a radio, but I wanted to share a couple of things we discussed. Here are a couple of my predictions:

1. Expect political grandstanding by candidates for higher office. This includes Ed Lindsey, who is now supporting HB 707, anti-Obamacare legislation while Ed runs for Congress from the 11th District, and Jason Carter, running on spending more of your money in various ways as a Democrat for Governor.

2. The session won’t be super-short. Every year people predict a short session, and this year is like that but more so. I’d guess the third week of March will see Sine Die.

3. The overwhelming theme will be “gimme some money,” as state employees, teacher’s group, and anyone else who receives a paycheck from the state sees rising revenues as a ticket to a raise. Many of our state employees have seen no raises for as long as seven years, while the cost of insurance has gone up, and this year the state benefits health plan actual benefits declined dramatically like something off of The folks most likely to benefit from rising revenues are those with a political constituency beyond their own members. In Georgia, and I suspect most other states, this means teachers.

GAGOP Senate Debates

A great question Greg raised is what are the qualifications to be onstage at the GAGOP Senate debates – will all announced candidates be given a seat at the table, or will there be some measure of viability – financial or otherwise – used to winnow the field.

The problem is that an eight (or more) candidate debate will hardly be compelling watching, because it reduces the number of rounds and questions that can be asked, and by the time the last candidates answers, the audience will likely have forgotten the original question. On the other hand, it can be hard to say today who will be viable in May, and the State Party should’t be playing favorites.

I suggest we adopt the “Survivor” model, where each candidate is voted on by GAGOP members after the debate, and the lowest vote-getter is eliminated from the next debate. At 50 cents per call if we use the phone number voting method, it’d also be a great way to transfer money from the candidates’ backers to the state GOP. Obviously, the last debate will be ThunderDome style.

Gary Gerrard brings the TV to CD10

Gary Gerrard has announced that he will be the first on television with an ad running on Cable television. It’s above. That’s Mike Hassinger in the voiceover and on-screen with Gerrard.

Yesterday, Stuart Rothenberg wrote on his blog at Congressional Quarterly’s Roll Call about early television advertising and whether it’s effective in Congressional races. His take: not so much.

By mid-December, more than $17.5 million had been spent on TV ads in just four Senate contests: in North Carolina ($8.3 million), Kentucky ($3.5 million), Arkansas ($3.4 million) and Louisiana ($2.3 million), according to a recent piece by Roll Call’s Kyle Trygstad.

The numbers are interesting and newsworthy. But it’s important to understand the dirty little secret of early TV ads: At the end of the day, most of the ads, and most of the money spent on them, won’t make a dime’s worth of difference in the November results.

Strategists who advocate or justify TV ads 10 or 12 months before Election Day will tell you that it is important to get up on the air to “introduce” an opponent before he or she can introduce himself (Arkansas) or to dissuade a potential opponent from running (Kentucky). And in a few rare cases, that may work. But most of the time it doesn’t, especially if both sides have plenty of money.

It certainly is true that given the suffocating nature of the final weeks of a campaign, when every candidate for every office seems to be buying up whatever air time is still available, many strategists believe that the value of late advertising is dropping. And if late ads are ineffective, the idea of early TV ads sounds more appealing.

“Late ads don’t do much anymore, in part because there are so many ads, so the odds of getting through with a message are better early than late,” one pollster argued.

One difference between Gerrard’s race and the scenario by Rothenberg is that Gerrard’s contest is over after the Republican Primary and likely Runoff Election, so we’re not really 10-12 months out for him. More like 5 months and change from the first round of voting, so his conclusions don’t necessarily hold for this race.

Is Gerrard’s early television drop brilliant strategery or bad political consulting? Only time and election results will tell, but in what appears from the 2013 year-end and early 2014 special elections to be a very low-turnout electorate, it’s more important than ever for campaigns and strategists to Think Different(ly).

Another take on the upcoming Session

Winston Jones has written an outstanding piece in the (Carrollton) Times-Georgian getting local legislators’ takes on the upcoming Session. This time of year, it’s easy to find out what the Governor or Speaker think will be priorities, but not always to find out what’s important in other parts of the state or among more “rank-and-file” members of the legislature.

“Since the only constitutionally mandated requirement is that we pass a balanced budget, I expect the budget to be front and center,” said Rep. Randy Nix, R-LaGrange, who represents a portion of Carroll County.

State revenues are expected to be up this year, said Sen. Mike Dugan, R-Carrollton, but population has also increased, meaning that the budget situation is “revenue neutral.”

“New growth in business across the state, as we were selected as the best state in which to do business, will help, but we still have some areas of the budget where we won’t be able to allocate what we’d like,” Dugan said. “There’s some uncertainties from Obamacare that we’ll have to consider this year as well.”

Dugan said there’s been numerous individual projections on how much will be spent on medical cost, but until the system is up and running, nobody knows what the increases will total.

Sen. Mike Crane, R-Newnan, who represents a portion of Carroll County, also feels the budget will be at the top of the priorities.

“I haven’t seen the final numbers, but it’s going to be a pretty tight budget,” Crane said. “The cost increases have outpaced the revenue growth again, which will make for some challenging decisions.”

“Other significant topics I expect are education, health care and continued work on gun legislation that stalled on the last day of the 2013 session,” Nix said.

Nix said that while he hasn’t pre-filed any legislation, he has been engaged in listening sessions on education.

“I anticipate co-sponsoring legislation to address some of the issues we’ve heard around the state,” he said, “primarily to allow local school systems greater flexibility and more options as to how their systems can operate.”

“The General Assembly does have to pass a budget and a supplemental budget,” said Randy Evans, an attorney and political columnist. “After that, look for Republican leaders to rock and roll with a General Assembly session moving along as quickly as possible, with an early adjournment to leave plenty to time for campaigning, fundraising and re-election efforts.”

Blake Aued, writing for Flagpole magazine, brings us an Athens-centric view of the session.

“We don’t have, from all indications, a very aggressive agenda this session,” says Sen. Bill Cowsert (R-Athens).

University of Georgia President Jere Morehead has said he’ll push for raises for faculty and staff, who haven’t had one in five years.

State Rep. Spencer Frye (D-Athens) wants the state to use extra tax revenue to give teachers a raise. Or buy him another phone.

“Public school teachers haven’t had raises in forever,” says state Rep. Spencer Frye (D-Athens). “University folks haven’t had raises in forever. Hopefully, we’ll see we need to invest in that instead of big corporate tax breaks because we have extra money.”

Under Chancellor Hank Huckaby, a new era of austerity is coming for Georgia colleges and universities. With stagnant lottery revenue and declining state support, Huckaby has warned that the higher education system will have to do more with less, and the days of big building projects are all but over.

Guns: A bill that could allow people with concealed-carry permits to take their guns into churches and bars and on college campuses is still alive.

Transportation: Local officials in Athens-Clarke County and other cities want to hold referenda on sales tax hikes to fund transportation, similar to the failed T-SPLOST referendum in 2012 but on a county rather than regional level. In ACC, the money would go toward improving Athens Transit bus service and road projects.

But after watching their brainchild go down in flames a year-and-a-half ago, Republicans aren’t inclined to even give voters the option of taxing themselves. “No new taxes,” Cowsert says.

The Reporter Newspapers bring us the view from Buckhead:

Legislators representing Fulton County said the shorter legislative calendar means they will be working on a tight schedule. What that will mean for some high profile legislation, like bills calling for referendums to create new DeKalb County cities, isn’t clear, the legislators say.

State Rep. Wendell Willard, R-Sandy Springs, said he has been working on legislation reforming the state’s forfeiture laws and discovery of electronic records in civil cases that he’d like to get passed this year before the session wraps.

“We want to get everybody out of session as quickly as possible because it means we’ll be qualifying somewhere around March 15 to meet the deadlines,” Willard said. “I expect we’ll probably be out of session by March 20.”

State Sen. Judson Hill, R-Marietta, has part of Sandy Springs in his district. He said he thinks an election year is an ideal time to pass controversial legislation, like bills allowing for referendums on new cities.

“I’ve always been in favor of introducing and passing great legislation, no matter when it is,” Hill said. “The best time to pass really good bills is during an election year. If it’s not good in election year, in my view it’s not good.”

Hill said he’d like to pass legislation establishing charity care clinics and privatizing some of PeachCare, a service providing affordable health insurance to low-income children. He said new bills might be difficult to pass this year.

District 6 Sen. Hunter Hill (R-Smyrna), who represents a portion of Buckhead, said he plans to work on passage of legislation to streamline the process to create public-private partnerships for state projects. “This is about delivering mission-critical facilities,” he said.

Rep. Joe Wilkinson (R- Sandy Springs ) said he intended to work on economic development. “Georgia was named this past fall as the best place to do business,” he said. “I’ve been on the economic development and tourism committee from the time it was formed 11 years ago. … I see us trying to build on that connection. The companies we bring in, it brings jobs, it brings revenue.”

From the Dalton Daily Citizen, a Northwest Georgia take:

“The message that I’m hearing from everyone I talk to is ‘Let’s go ahead and get the people’s work done,’” said state Rep. Bruce Broadrick, R-Dalton. “Getting the work done early gives people confidence and predictability about where we are going.”

“My expectation is that everything will be moved to May 20,” said state Sen. Charlie Bethel, R-Dalton. “But until the ball starts rolling I can’t say for sure. I do think we will make that decision early. We will get that done quickly so that it isn’t an open question and so that people thinking about qualifying know when that will take place.”

“The amended budget will be more limited than usual,” said state Rep. Tom Dickson, R-Cohutta. “It will be just those things that have to be adjusted, such as changes in school enrollment or increased Medicaid costs.”

A dispatch from the Rockdale News:

Sen. Rick Jeffares (R-Locust Grove, a floor leader and chairman of the ethics commission, said a bill to change state and local elections is likely to be introduced the first day of the legislative session, Jan. 13.

Assuming the bill becomes law, any Georgian planning to run for federal, state or local office will need to qualify to run for office much earlier as well, between March 3 and March 7 (independent candidates must qualify before June 27 to participate in the general election).

Jeffares said Republican leaders are aiming to end the session March 16, a month or two before the session normally wraps up.

“The Republican caucus is meeting Monday to talk about all the things we need to do and to do it all quick,” he said Thursday.

Jeffares said he didn’t think the faster session would really affect business, because the General Assembly is in the second year of a two-year cycle and many bills are already pending from 2013. Jeffares said the first couple weeks of session generally start off slower, so the shortened session might prompt people to get up to full speed from day one.

In addition, any legislators trying to get a bill passed in 2014 can pre-file their bill before the session starts to give it a better chance of being heard early, he said.

State Rep. Matt Ramsey (R-Peachtree City) brings his voters’ priorities in The Citizen:

Rep. Matt Ramsey, R-Peachtree City, said the big chore as always will be to shore up the state’s budget expenses between the year-end supplemental budget and the coming fiscal year’s budget. But looming shortly in the distance is the prospect of politicking, specifically a much earlier qualification deadline in March to run for office.

Because of that deadline, Ramsey is predicting a fairly quick session that is hopefully not drawn out as many legislators are anxious to handle qualifying and segue into campaign mode, which is verboten during the session.

“I think the interest this year is having a very efficient session and to try and not get bogged down too much and hopefully get out in March sometime,” Ramsey said Monday.

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